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Irish undocumented and supporter during a visit to Washington in an effort to get the US government to move on comprehensive immigration reform Photo by: ILIR

Leading congressman says immigration reform bill likely to happen next year

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Irish undocumented and supporter during a visit to Washington in an effort to get the US government to move on comprehensive immigration reform Photo by: ILIR

Representative Rob Andrews (D- NJ) has told the Ancient  Order of Hibernians (AOH)  that immigration reform will see a vote in the House of Representatives in the New Year and is confident of a passage with bipartisan support.

"We now have bipartisan votes approving a budget deal recently, and for defense spending,” said Andrews, according to the website NJ.com. “I am hopeful this will lead to new season of cooperation.”

“At the end of the day, this bill deserves a vote. If the proposal loses, then it’s back to the drawing board to do something else.”

Andrews, who was addressing a gathering of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in National Park, NJ last Wednesday, said that he knows of at least 40 Republicans in the House who would approve the Senate bill. That number would be enough to ensure the legislation's passage.

“Once they hear from the Catholic bishops, and the evangelicals, and the law enforcement community that supports this, they’ll yield and give it a vote,” he said. “There’s going to be a renewed push for this, and I will be part of it.”

In June, the Senate passed the immigration bill by a vote of 68-32, with 14 Republican votes but the bill has remained in limbo in the House, where conservatives have criticized it for offering "amnesty" to illegals.

Andrews admitted the bill included a limited form of amnesty.

“It is amnesty with conditions,” he said. “Someone who came in illegally would be able to stay if they met certain conditions — to say otherwise would be untrue.”

Andrews said that illegals seeking citizenship would have to pass a criminal background check, attempt to learn English, refrain from public assistance programs and pay back taxes.

Sean Pender, the NJ state president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said he supports the bill because it will provide a clearer path for legal immigration from Ireland.

“There hasn’t been a law passed regarding Irish immigration since 1968, and after so many years, it’s now nearly impossible for people from Ireland to legally move here,” he told NJ.com. “They’re going to England, and Canada and Australia — that’s brain power we’re losing out on.”

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